Distributed in the UK by Simply Aquaria Ltd, Genio-Systems are a relative newcomer on the UK market yet offer products with a distinctive, sophisticated design. Based in Austria, the company offers a range of innovative and design-orientated products including complete filter systems, filter system modules, skimmers, DC pumps, calcium reactors, and complete aquariums in acrylic. Affordable, yet high quality, key-selling points also include user-friendly design and manual final assembly of products at the source to ensure excellent quality control. For the purpose of this ‘quick look’ we’ll be evaluating the Ca Master 120 DC calcium reactor from their CA-System range.
Out of the box, the Ca Master 120 DC presents us with an immediately simple design, which is rather refreshing in a market dominated by reactors that initially appear to require an engineering degree to assemble! Most notably, the key input and outputs located on the top of the unit are all labelled and this is useful in understanding how the unit actually works from the word ‘go’.
At the other end, the mixing pump is attached directly into the base of the unit, pointing upwards, and is surrounded by an acrylic section that can be removed to allow access to the pump, and also acts as a stand for the reactor when in place. The unit sits directly on the rim of this section and, while there are no rubber feet to absorb vibration noise, the pump produces very little vibration in operation. The pump supplied is a DC unit capable of turning over up to 2000lph while consuming up to 24watts (less of course if the pump is run on a lower setting). The controller for the pump is very similar to the other DC pumps we’ve tested and offers 10 speed settings plus a feed mode, which temporarily deactivates the pump for 10 minutes.
Through a flashing light combination, the controller can also indicate operational problems and this can be useful if the unit stops working for any reason (ours didn’t but we’ve had this with other DC pumps we’ve used). As with similar offerings, the controller and pump cables interface via a compact 3 pin connector (secured with a screw-up collar) and then a power supply also plugs into the controller box. The power supply has a UK 3-pin adapter, though take note that the body of this plug is quite a bit larger than a standard UK plug (if you are using a twin row plug rack, this might physically block the opposing socket). Still on the subject of design, this model includes a useful pH probe port and a CO2 bubble counter. There is no flow rate measurement or control provided, so, unless you add a drip counter of some kind, the effluent drip rate must be used as a reference. This should be fine if you are using a peristaltic pump to control the unit (as recommended by this manufacturer) but otherwise getting a consistent flow through the unit might prove tricky.
The only other points we’d make are that there are 8 screws used to hold the lid in place, and these are also quite long, each requiring 20-30 turns to remove. Obviously this isn’t something you are going to have to do very often, and they certainly give peace of mind, but fewer, ‘chunkier’ screws might make the unit easier to service. The centre screw in the Ca reactor lid can be used for manual venting but the unit does include a gas recycling system, which seems to work automatically.
Operationally, we were really interested to see how loud the unit was, how much energy it consumed in the real world, and how effectively it fulfilled its role. Firstly, in terms of noise, our sound meter app detected a rise of just 1db against the background when the unit was in operation. In real terms this means the unit is barely audible and it is necessary to get to within a couple of feet to be able to attribute noise to the specific item. In short… it is very quiet! Energy-wise, tested with a plug-in digital meter, our unit meets the claimed power consumption figures and as such represents an improvement in efficiency over the matching internal volume unit we’ve replaced. At 16x16cm, the footprint is remarkably small while the internal volume is still good. This all stems from the use of the compact pump at the base of the unit and the re-circulating loop running internally rather than externally like most other Calcium reactors. In terms of reliability, we can’t provide long-term results unfortunately, but certainly for the few weeks that we have used the unit it has worked perfectly. It’s worth noting that we are using coarse media in the reactor to keep flow rates high and we’ve even been able to run the pump at around 60% while maintaining a high KH reading from the effluent water.
With 2 models available, the Ca Master 120 DC and the Ca Master 160DCT Turbo, these Calcium reactors offer a simple and effective solution for a range of tank sizes. The reactors don’t come with lots of bells and whistles but they fit the bill if you are limited for space and we’d recommend them as particularly suitable for first time Calcium reactor users. The inclusion of the controllable pump is also nice of course, allowing for an additional degree of control, but don’t forget to budget for a decent peristaltic pump to feed the unit reliably. Retailing at an RRP of £260 the 120 model is rated for tanks of up to 1000 litres (160 model rated at 1500 litres and an RRP £43
5). However, if you are hoping to maintain multiple stony coral colonies over the long term, we’d suggest oversizing the unit to allow for growth.